Monday, September 23, 2013


Robert McCloskey, the famous children's book author and illustrator,  was born on September 14, 1914. His formal training was as a painter.  He attended the Vesper George Art School, and later studied at the National Academy of Design in New York City.  I've always admired his work tremendously, as a child and as an adult.  And I feel a special connection with him as well:  he and I both studied painting, a generation apart, with Jerry Farnsworth and Helen Sawyer at their school of art in North Truro, Massachusetts.  In fact, at the time I was a student there, over the doorway of  the main studio room, splashed out with a brush in bold black letters, was the legend: Robert McCloskey, Prix de Rome, 1939.  He must have been a student with Jerry when he won that very prestigious prize.  In studying with Farnsworth, McCloskey was continuing a tradition of outstanding American painting, as Farnsworth in turn had studied with the legendary Charles W. Hawthorne.  McCloskey's early career as a painter was a financial flop, for which we can all be forever grateful: he next decided to try children's books as a way to create an income.
Everyone knows, of course, of Make Way For Ducklings, as well as McCloskey's other picture books.  But the books I love even more---if that be possible---are those for older readers:  Homer Price, Centerburg Tales, and Lentil.  If you are not familiar with these, go find them today.  You are in for a treat.
McCloskey was not a prolific artist, by some standards.  But the books that he wrote and illustrated are, as far as I can make out, all still in print---a wonderful testimony to the care and attention that he put into his work.  Below are a few sites that will give you a bit more information about Robert McCloskey and Jerry Farnsworth.


  1. Wonderful tribute to one of my favorites, Wendy. I am struck again by how much COLOR he was able to get into his black and white drawings! Blueberries For Sal is my number 1!

    1. Ashley, you especially would appreciate his black and white work! He was a master of that genre.

  2. Nice art connection Wendy, lucky you, and fine tribute to McCloskey. I read and have the two biographies on him, one by Gary D. Schmidt and the other by his daughter Jane; they compliment each other filling out the full personality.

    In 1989 I had the good fortune to meet him, he was quite old. We were on a program at a library conference in Los Angeles, not keynoters but at a small workshop setting. What a treat to meet the author-illustrator of my childhood treat, Make Way for Ducklings. We lived in Lower Roxbury at five year-old used to walk the duckling route.

    Nice posting.